Tarragona, Spain

October 2007

In October 2007 a series of resistivity and magnetometry surveys were undertaken in the region of the Ager Tarraconensis, near the town of Tarragona, in Catalonia, Spain.

The work was carried out on behalf of the Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC), and was conducted by the British School at Rome and the University of Southampton.

The aim of these surveys was to assess the archaeological potential of applying the two complementary geophysical survey techniques to a number of small Roman sites ranging from a high status villa to lower status rural settlements that had been discovered through systematic field walking in the hinterland around Tarragona.


At Centcelles, survey was taken around the extant remains of a villa complex. The results from the geophysical survey showed that the villa complex extended a good distance southwards from the extant remains, aiding the information gained from previous excavation on site and extending the knowledge of the villa complex.

Las Bassasses

The survey at Las Bassasses successfully located a large warehouse or farm structure thought to be Roman in date and enclosed by a bank and possibly a ditch on its east.

Mas de la Pastora

Results from Mas de la Pastora suggested the presence of a small site possibly relating to agricultural activity, however results were largely ambiguous.

Mas di Gomandi and Els Antigons

The survey results from these sites were disappointing, with a large disturbance created by the construction of a factory at Els Antigons
Magnetometer survey at Els Antigons
and only a couple of ephemeral features seen in the results from Mas de Gomandi.


The results of the geophysical survey at the five sites in the Ager Tarraconensis showed that the techniques were moderately successful in locating archaeological remains. A number of factors limited the success of the results, most importantly the small size of many of the areas that were available to survey, and the nature of the archaeological material at each site. The integrated strategy employed for the survey, combining magnetometry with resistivity, did however result in a variety of related features being located at different sites that would otherwise not have been revealed through application of any one individual geophysical technique, reinforcing the value of this approach.